August 3, 2011 / 3:08 PM / in 6 years

CANADA STOCKS-TSX hit by U.S. economic worries; golds rise

* TSX down 183.42 points, or 1.44 percent, at 12,568.90

* Hits lowest level since mid-November 2010

* All 10 sectors drop, six shed more than 1 percent

* U.S. economic data mixed, weighs on market sentiment

* Two big insurers to report earnings later (Adds details)

By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index tumbled more than 1 percent on Wednesday morning to its lowest level in more than eight months after an index of U.S. non-manufacturing activity came in below economists’ forecasts, adding to worries about the U.S. economy.

There was some relief early on about the U.S. economy as the ADP payrolls figures for July, a reading on private sector employment, came in stronger than expected. [ID:nN1E77208M]

But another report later showed the pace of growth in the U.S. services sector ticked down unexpectedly in July to the lowest level since February 2010, accelerating losses on the overall market. The TSX hit its lowest since mid November at 12,567.70.

“The eyes are focused on the economy,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier, adding that worries that the U.S. might slip back into recession are starting to creep in.

“Is it going to be a recession or a pause?”

The oil and gas sector was down 2.07 percent, as crude oil prices fell after debt ratings agency Moody’s assigned a negative outlook to the United States. That added to worries of falling demand as the world’s top oil user and the euro zone continue to face long-term economic difficulties. [O/R]

The decision by Moody’s came a few hours after rival Fitch Ratings upheld its AAA rating on the United States. Standard & Poor’s is expected to announce its decision soon as well.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) lost 3.2 percent to C$34.15, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) dropped 2.8 percent to C$36.06.

The economically sensitive financials were also lower, down 2 percent. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) sagged 2.3 percent to C$49.44, while Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) was off 2.47 percent at C$73.47.

At 10:45 a.m. (1445 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 183.42 points, or 1.44 percent, at 12,568.90.

All 10 main groups were lower. The gold-heavy materials group, which was up more than 1 percent in early trade, was down a mild 0.1 percent.

Gold-mining stocks were helped by bullion’s rise to another record for a second straight day. Gold prices were driven by deepening fears over the spread of the European debt crisis and its impact on regional growth, while data showed a number of central banks bought gold in June. [GOL/]

The TSX’s gold subgroup was up 1.4 percent. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) rose 2.27 percent to C$47.71, while Goldcorp (G.TO) advanced 1.74 percent to C$47.26.

Research In Motion RIM.TO was also another bright spot. It jumped about 3 percent in early trade after the BlackBerry maker took the wraps off two new versions of its touchscreen BlackBerry Torch. The gains faded with the general retreat, however, and RIM was up just 0.3 percent at C$23.30 by midmorning. [ID:nN1E7711TV]

In individual earnings news, Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) rose 0.3 percent to C$82.01 after the fertilizer maker and farm products retailer’s quarterly profit topped estimates, helped by higher nutrient prices and strong retail sales. [ID:nL3E7J326E]

Later in the session, Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) and Great-West Lifeco (GWO.TO), two of Canada’s big insurers are expected to report sluggish second-quarter results due to weaker equities, lower bond yields and sluggish U.S. growth. [ID:nN1E7710ZS]

$1=$0.96 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson

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